I can report that it is a little damp today in Eastbourne… OK, it’s chucking it down! Hopefully it should clear by the middle of the afternoon (being hopeful). Originally, the forecast said it was raining all day so it would be a bonus to get a few hours of play. Hopefully all the first round matches will be finished and Tuesday will be a fantastic day of tennis! Anyway, here are a few thoughts about today’s potential matches.
1. Magdalena Rybarikova v Svetlana Kuznetsova (Eastbourne, CC 1st up)
Rybarikova had a pretty miserable year up to the grass court season, winning just seven main draw matches. As usual, Rybarikova has come alive on the grass, a surface that suits her game beautifully. She reached the third round of Birmingham and has come through two rounds of qualifying in Eastbourne, defeating Monica Puig and Saisai Zheng. Kuznetsova also reached the third round of Birmingham and has been practising a lot in Eastbourne. She had a really intense practice match with Sam Stosur and I could hear Sveta grunting from miles away! Kuznetsova leads the head-to-head over Rybarikova, 2-0 although both matches were on clay. Rybarikova winning won’t come as a surprise, but i’d stick with Sveta. Note – I always get Sveta matches wrong haha
2. Barbora Strycova v Irina-Camelia Begu (Eastbourne, Court 1 2nd up)
I’m planning to watch this match and I think it should be a good one. I’ve never had the live Babs experience! Strycova had a superb grass court season in 2014 and is very effective on this surface with her superb net game. Begu has had a really solid year up till now and i’ve been very impressed with the matches I have watched. I feel like this should be Strycova, but for some reason or another i’m pulling for Begu. In their only previous match-up, Begu beat Strycova, 6-4 6-4 in Madrid earlier this year.
3. Christina McHale v Camila Giorgi (Eastbourne, 4th up)
Giorgi comes into Eastbourne off the back of her first WTA title win in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. She looked relaxed and was playing well on the practice courts yesterday. McHale has come through qualifying with decent wins over Yanina Wickmayer and Monica Niculescu, both completely opposite ends of the spectrum but tricky players. Surprisingly perhaps, McHale leads the head-to-head over Giorgi, 2-0 with three set wins in Sydney and Rome last year. McHale’s results this year have been steadily improving, but i’d fancy Giorgi to find enough winners to come through and set up a second round tie with Petra… please! That should be a good one but obviously I hope Petra can win and get some matches before Wimby.
4. Marina Erakovic v Tsvetana Pironkova (Eastbourne, Court 2 1st up)
This should be an entertaining match out on court 2 between two players who have had their best results on grass. Pironkova played a pretty good match against eventual Birmingham champion, Angelique Kerber, going down 6-4 in the third set of their second round match. Erakovic prevailed in a three setter aganst Daria Gavrilova in the final round of Eastbourne qualifying (full recap here). Pironkova leads the head-to-head, 2-0 with straight set wins at Indian Wells (2009) and New Haven (2013). I just realised I put Pironkova to the final in my draw… drunk on live tennis fumes obviously! I’m hoping Lucie can come through that section but it’s the week before a Slam and many players will have their eyes on Wimby already. I’d take Tsvetana in this one over three sets.
Eastbourne 1st Round Predictions
Heather Watson d. Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova d. Harriet Dart in 2 sets
Lauren Davis d. Jarmila Gajdosova in 3 sets
Alexandra Dulgheru d. Irina Falconi in 3 sets
Madison Brengle d. Polona Hercog in 3 sets